In the online age it’s pretty much impossible not to have an online presence – whether it’s an ecommerce site selling your products and services, a social media account used to market your business or reviews of your company on user-generated aggregators, you can guarantee that a simple Google search will result in information regarding your business being displayed.
Such exposure is undoubtedly good news, but have you considered that with so much information online, your products or services could quite easily be subject to imitation or piracy if you aren’t adequately protected? In the same way that you acquire the necessary permits and register the documents required to allow you to legally function as a business, it’s also the case that you have to protect your intellectual property – sometimes by creating a legal contract if necessary.
About intellectual property
Your intellectual property is quite simply any idea you have conceived – logos, brands, software, music and inventions are just some examples of intellectual property. Registering intellectual property can often be a complex process and it’s always advisable to seek professional advice before submitting any sort of legal contract. Of course, simply registering your intellectual property is only half the battle, because if someone is infringing on your rights by imitating your product, you’ll have to catch them in the act first!
Ways in which your business’s intellectual property can be pirated
The most common ways in which the intellectual property of your business can be used for nefarious means are:
1) Unauthorised pages, which is when third parties use your trademarks (such as logos or products) in their own online content (including but not limited to social media). This results in dilution of your brand, and diversion of traffic which should be driven to your pages and sites.
2) Digital piracy or counterfeiting, where your products and services (such as a piece of software or artwork) are sold by third parties without your consent.
Making sure you aren’t a victim of digital piracy
Despite the fact that online piracy can carry a jail term, it doesn’t stop people from stealing intellectual property.
Perhaps the best way to ensure your rights aren’t being infringed upon is to remain diligent. Conduct regular online searches for the unique products and services you provide, and if your work is being used without permission, you should contact the perpetrator with a cease-and-desist email (there are plenty of example templates online to get you started, just be aware that many are generic and you may have to tailor one to your particular niche).